Select Committee on Work and Pensions Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Status Employment

  Status Employment is an independent charity helping disabled candidates back into employment. We work with many candidates with SMI and learning disabilities and people traditionally viewed as further away from the labour market. We asked our focus group, which represents a cross section of our candidates the questions, posed. Their responses are in red. We are currently not a pathway to work area:

What lessons can be learned from the Pathways to Work pilots in shaping the direction of the reform of incapacity benefits?

    —    Good thing helps people to get back.

    —    Not sure. I was in a state and wasn't really ready. I would have only gone for a rubbish job. Physically fit but not really ready.

    —    Good thing for me.

    —    Depends how ready people are for work.

What are the implications of DWP's proposals for the new structure of incapacity benefits? Do they address the complications inherent in the existing incapacity benefits system? Is a dual benefit the right approach? Could it be improved?

    —    Incentive to find work a good idea.

    —    Still problems with part time working and retaining benefits.

    —    Still a problem with people moving p/t to F/t.

    —    Still a problem with the permitted work earnings limit (at £81 pw).

Will the reforms help to improve work incentives for sick and disabled people?

    —    Not really.

    —    People who are benefits need better access to subsidized courses.

Is it possible to distinguish between those who are able to return to work and those who cannot?

    —    If you are just dealing with JCP they don't really recognise people skills.

    —    Who would do the ready for work assessments?

What are the implications of the reforms on levels of fraud and error?

    —    The incentives to pay more for people who are genuinely want to go back to work are more relevant.

Will the reforms address the main areas of concern with the current system?

The future rollout of Pathways to Work

    —    How successful have the Pathways to Work pilots been? Does the current design need adapting for national rollout?

    —    What are the implications of a rollout of Pathways on a new system of incapacity benefits?

The experience of sick and disabled people

    —    Including: the experience of those who have taken part in different aspects of the Pathways to Work pilots; barriers in accessing support offered through Pathways; awareness of the support available; and views on further reform.

    —    Are people with different disabilities and health conditions, in both pilot and non-pilot areas, given appropriate support by Jobcentre Plus? Is there a tendency to help those perceived as closer to the labour market?

    —    There seems to be a lack of follow up for those who are on long term benefits. The job centres don't seem be encouraging people who are long term and using their initiative outside the JCP database of jobs.

    —    There seems insufficient information given to help people back into work eg JCPs don't talk about linking rules.

How will the reforms help those who are not able, or not yet ready, to work?

    —    The current system does not allow for people further from the job market to readily access support.

    —    Monies are only paid on job outcomes not on progression.

    —    Some people want to have other courses than the weak ones available via JCP eg Assertiveness. could this be funded elsewhere.

    —    Voluntary work needs to have all bars removed.

SUPPORT FOR SICK AND DISABLED PEOPLE TO MOVE BACK INTO WORK

Can the reformed systems support those with variable and manageable medical conditions, or those who are able to work part-time? Are those with mental health difficulties adequately supported?

    —    It works when there is good support available via CMHTs etc but this can depend on the enthusiasm of the individual areas.

Does the Condition Management Programme provide the right level of support?

    —    It isn't happening.

INVOLVEMENT OF HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS

Has Pathways successfully worked with healthcare professionals, including GPs, particularly in rehabilitation initiatives such as the Condition Management Programme? How can healthcare professionals be further engaged in the reform of the incapacity benefits system?

    —    Little involvement from GPs at present. Invoicing for the provision of Care plans is not acceptable.

JOBCENTRE PLUS RESOURCES

Is Jobcentre Plus sufficiently resourced to deliver the Pathways pilots, both in terms of staffing and finances? Are they equipped to deal with a reform programme for Incapacity Benefit?

    —    You need to have local job centre to give a better service to clients.

What has been the effect of the DWP efficiencies agenda?

    —    It is very hard in London to get a competent service we have had to delay work with candidates because a lack of a DEA, and no one seems to stay in their job.

Existing employment initiatives

    —    What has been the effect of the Pathways pilots on existing programmes and support, such as the New Deal for Disabled People and Work-Based Learning for Adults?

    —    How do personal advisers work in collaboration with other Jobcentre Plus staff such as Disability Employment Advisers and with Job Brokers?

The role of the private and voluntary sectors

    —    Have the private and voluntary sectors been successfully involved in the Pathways pilots? How can they be further involved in the reform of incapacity benefits?

Local labour markets

    —    What type of jobs are participants of Pathways moving into? Are they receiving appropriate in-work support to enhance job retention?

    —    Are local labour markets able to provide the jobs needed?

What is the experience of employers?

    —    There is still a lot of negativity with employers and we are still finding it difficult to access public services.

Robert Elston

27 September 2005



 
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